Chenna Poda, translated as burnt cottage cheese is one of the main desserts from Odisha. A delicious and scrumptious Indian cake made with chenna (paneer). To keep it healthier, I made this with jaggery instead of sugar. This chenna poda jaggery recipe is a keeper for special occasions.
India is known for its decadent milk sweets which are out of the world and dangerously moreish! No occasion is complete without a dessert that contains milk or any dairy derivatives. The famous Rasgullas, Sandesh, Kheer, Milk Peda, Payesh and I can keep going. So today's post, a Valentine's day special, is a cake made from curdled milk. Yes, you guessed it right. It's made from Chenna (Paneer). A knockout dish from the land of Jagannath - Odisha! It is none other than Chenna Poda.
Chenna Poda Origin
Chenna poda in Odia means burnt cottage cheese. This is yet another happy accident creation in the kitchen. Mr. Sudarshan Sahu, from Nayagarh, Odisha is the creator of this wonderful decadent dish. He was a halwai (confectioner) and one night he left the leftover chenna and sugar mixture in the used oven overnight. The chenna got cooked and almost burnt in the residual heat. He instantly liked that burnt chenna taste and tweaked it into a perfect recipe and our beloved Chenna Poda was born. This is also refeerred as the Indian cheesecake.
If you are interested in learning more about the Odiya cuisine, check out my series Indian Food Trail - Tales of the Odia Kitchen. My Odia friend shares her knowledge about the Odia cuisine and her family tradition and customs.
Chenna Poda is very simple to make; mix chenna and sugar and bake. No fancy ingredients or equipments needed. In this recipe, I have substituted sugar with jaggery. Even though there is a difference in taste, both are a treat to the tastebuds. Try both the versions! Also, the highlight of the dish is to get that caramelized effect on top of the cake. To achieve that, sprinkle some sugar or gud on the bottom of the baking dish and then pour the chenna mixture.
Chenna and Paneer difference
Even though chenna and paneer look the same, there is a slight difference. Their difference comes into play when you want to make desserts. Chenna is used for making desserts while Paneer is used to make curries. The primary difference is in their texture and moistness. Chenna is more softer/lighter and moister than Paneer. Paneer needs to be set and hardened as we make them into cubes and when added to a gravy, it has to hold its shape. Whereas chenna is mashed and smoothened before it gets converted into a dessert. To summarise:
- Chenna contains more moisture than paneer. You don't have to set it for a long time. Drain the separated milk solids and hang on the cloth for 30 minutes. It is enough.
- You don't have to place heavy weights. This will drain the moisture from the chenna completely.
- Chenna is soft and very light in volume. So as soon as the whey and milk solids separate, turn off the flame and drain it. The more you keep it the more it becomes harder which is good while making paneer.
Chenna Poda, translated as burnt cottage cheese is one of the main desserts from Odisha. A delicious and scrumptious Indian cake made with chenna (paneer) and sugar
- 500 grams paneer | cottage cheese
- 4 tablespoon sooji | semolina
- 1 cup powdered jaggery refer notes
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1.5 teaspoon ghee | clarified indian butter
- A pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup raisins and cashews (optional)
- A pinch of nutmeg powder (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180 deg c.
Mash the paneer well until it becomes smooth.
Then add the remaining ingredients one by one and combine them. Once it is well combined, transfer it to a baking tin lined with parchment paper or grease it with ghee on all sides.
Bake this at 180 deg c for about one hour until the top layer is browned. Adjust the time until it is completely brown on top.
Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. Transfer it to a plate and set it aside for another 10 minutes. Once it becomes firm, cut them into pieces and store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
Shelf life: Try to finish it as soon as possible. You can store this for a couple of days at room temperature. It also stays good in the refrigerator but, bring the poda to room temperature before serving.
- The amount of jaggery depends on one's personal sweet preference. This amount yields a medium sweetness. Increase it as per your preference.
- The texture of the poda changes when refrigerated. So, unless necessary don't keep them in the refrigerator and eat them within a couple of days.
So ready to celebrate valentines day with your loved ones ? Why don't you try this for a change ? I know its not pink or heart-shaped but its a decadent dessert that will bring joy to your meal table. What else do we need other than happiness and content ?
If you make this, do not forget to give your feedback and do share it with us. 🙂 🙂